Home>Top Issues

Not all Arabs are against Trump

Tuesday,Feb 07, 2017

From: CGTN

 

Guest commentary by Hichem Karoui

People around the world may reproach President Donald Trump for many things... but not keeping his campaign promises doesn’t seem to be one of them. Since his first days in office, he has been putting his words into action, outraging many of his critics.

President Trump has signed a number of executive orders in his first few days in office. /Photo CFP

He surprised many by keeping his campaign promise to sign an executive order to build a US-Mexican border wall – undeterred by protests. And he has continued by banning citizens from seven Muslim countries – Sudan, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Iran – from entering the US for at least three months, at move seen by many observers as at least partially following through on his campaign promise to ban Muslims from entering the country. Holders of US Green Cards were initially included although this appears to have changed as of the time of writing.

In the countries affected, and throughout the Middle East, the main reaction has been sadness and calls to respond in the same way. Arab press headlines have used angry and emotive words and phrases such as: "Racism”... “Trump victims”... “Broken dreams”... “Unfair” … “Get your compatriots out of our country first." And those are just a few of the examples I could have quoted.

People across the world have protested against President Trump’s policies including his recent immigration policy. /Photo CFP

 

In Riyadh, a diplomatic source – who wished not to be identified – talked to me about the ongoing immigration ban controversy.

I asked why did Trump exclude Saudi Arabia from the ban when he specifically cited 9/11 as a reason for the order and the majority of those attackers came from Saudi Arabia?

“Washington knows the importance of Saudi Arabia," my source said. "But the American ban is a domestic decision. It concerns the issue of how to protect US territory. If it included Iran, this is because the Americans want to show a balanced policy. To fight Sunni extremism without fighting Shiite would be unfair.” Other countries on the banned list are dominated by Sunni Muslims.

The diplomatic source went on to explain, “The decision has been hasty and not founded on a strategic assessment. But it has all the same admitted the Saudi view about Iranian negative politics in the region.”

The US has maintained a close relationship with Saudi Arabia before Donald Trump took office. /Photo CFP

 

I also asked the source about Republican initiative the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) – the legislation allowing the victims of 9/11 to sue the Saudi government, on allegations that they support terrorism.

"They may review it, he said; and if not, we are not afraid of JASTA, but only of irresponsible policies in the Middle East.” The last comment was clearly a non-too subtle reference to previous  Obama administration policies in the region.

But it would be incorrect to pretend that the Arab-Islamic world holds the same stance against Trump’s policy.

The tone is very different in Egypt, a country not on Trump’s list. The government is still entrenched in a bitter fight against Islamists. Some Egyptian pundits are more critical toward Western liberals than toward the US president.

In Tunisia too the same trend  is working against the “liberal hypocrites” who many believe allowed Islamists to ride the wave of  the Arab Spring.  In Algeria, much of the population has been against the forces unleashed by the Arab Spring from the very beginning. In Libya, large sections of the population regret the fall of the Gaddafi regime, and in Iraq many regret the departure of Saddam Hussein given the situation their countries are currently in. For an important part of the Arab intelligentsia, the Western liberals are responsible for the spread of Islamism. They are same liberals who criticize and question Trump’s policies today.

President Obama’s policies have come under criticism by many in the Arab world. /Photo CFP

 

One Tunisian journalist I spoke to told me that he felt "Islamist extremists ‘gangrened’ Syria and Libya and Tunisia since 2011” meaning Islamists had made the entire situation worse. Islamists “should hate Trump, not ordinary Muslims,” he added.

Some Muslim secularists who view Islamists as a problem can even view Trump’s stance as supporting their own cause. Their zero tolerance of Islamist militancy seems to chime with the views of the new tenant of the White House.

But the feeling that the ban is against ordinary Muslims is still there. It is thought to be an over-reaction. I will give the last word to a Sudanese expatriate affected by the current ban: "Islamists are not Trump’s victims here, but ordinary Muslims."

About Author 
Hichem Karoui is  a Non-Resident Senior Fellow of the Center for China and Globalization, the largest independent think tank in China, with over 100 researchers and members of staff. 

From CGTN, 2017-1-31

 

  • South China Morning Post | China’s “golden ticket” to international leadership in biotech

    “If a guy becomes a Thousand Talent, there are cases where that guy is getting multiple local benefits – local incentives, local grants,” said Director of the Centre for China & Globalisation (CCG), Wang Huiyao, in his correspondence with the South China Morning Post.

  • Nobel Prize winner gets green card at Zhongguancun

    China began issuing permanent residence permits in 2004, however, the green card is among the most difficult in the world to obtain due to stringent requirements. Between 2004 and 2015, Beijing issued only 1,700 permanent residence permits. To attract more foreign talent and facilitate Zhongguancun’s development, Beijing started a pilot project in March 2016 that enables foreign startups or skilled professionals in the science park to apply for permanent residence.

  • China’s got the travel bug – but it lacks visitors

    Visitors from China may have become the biggest contributors to the global tourism market, but the Asian giant with a 5,000-year history apparently is not that attractive to foreign travellers. The number of inbound tourists grew at an average annual rate of just 1 per cent between 2005 and 2015 – and eight out of 10 of those were from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, according to a report by the Centre for China and Globalisation (CCG), a Beijing think tank.

  • More students returning from overseas to start business

    By the end of 2014, the country had a total of 305 start-up business incubators designed especially for students returning from abroad. These so-called “overseas students pioneer parks” are home to 22,000 start-ups, employing 63,000 returned students who have studied overseas, the report shows.

  • More support vital to boost green

    More support vital to boost green investment From: Global Times Tweet Ma Jun, chief economist at the People’s Bank of China and invited senior research fellow with the Center for China and Globalization (CCG), Speechs at the 2nd Annual China and…